Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Instagram restricts teens’ accounts, Elon Musk criticizes App Store fees, Google Play’s new policies – TechCrunch

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest mobile OS news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy.

The app industry continues to grow, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spending in 2020. Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.

Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year over year.

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Google Play updates its policies.

Did you hear the one about Google Play banning sugar daddy dating apps? Google this week updated its terms to clarify that apps where users offer sex acts in exchange for money or “sugar dating,” as the new terms state, are no longer allowed as of September 1, 2021.

More interesting, perhaps, to the larger group of legitimate Android developers is this week’s unveiling of the UI for the upcoming Google Play safety section and the accompanying app labels. The labels will function as the Android counterpart to the app “nutrition labels” the Apple App Store recently introduced.

Google is giving developers plenty of time to get used to the idea of increased transparency and disclosure by offering a detailed timeline of when it expects developers to have their privacy label submissions ready. By April 2022, all developers will need to declare specific info

and have a privacy policy. Developers will have to disclose to users whether their app uses security practices like data encryption, whether it follows Google Play’s Families policy for apps aimed at kids, whether users have a choice in data sharing, whether the app’s safety section had been verified by a third party, and if the app allowed users to request data deletion at the time of uninstalling, among other things.

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